UNCF and the Koch Brothers
To the shock and disappointment of AFSCME and many of our allies nationwide, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recently accepted a $25 million contribution from Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are not only major funders of anti-union organizations and campaigns that seek to create obstacles on the pathway to the middle class, but also have provided financial and political support for efforts to restrict Americans’ voting rights, particularly of African Americans, other people of color and students, by passing prohibitive voter identification laws, restricting early and absentee voting and supporting laws that threaten legal penalties to organizations that register voters in African American communities; and
Subsequent to accepting the Koch brothers’ money, UNCF President Michael Lomax attended and appeared as a speaker at the Koch brothers’ private political summit in California. The Koch summit gatherings serve as key fundraising and strategy events for anti-union and other radical, right-wing efforts; and
AFSCME and UNCF have worked in partnership for over a decade on the Union Scholars Program that provides students of color the opportunity to work with AFSCME over the summer, learn about social justice issues and the labor movement, earning much-needed union-funded scholarships to support their studies; and
AFSCME was especially proud of the Union Scholars Program and our partnership with UNCF because of our union’s longstanding commitment to racial equity and social justice and our union’s dedication to bringing more young people of color to work for AFSCME; and
Dr. Lomax’s deeply disappointing actions in lending support to the Koch brothers’ agenda have made AFSCME’s continuing partnership with UNCF untenable. AFSCME proudly works with individuals and organizations representing a wide range of political views, but we refuse to join forces with those, such as the Koch brothers, who seek to drive us out of existence and do irreparable harm to workers and the middle class; and
AFSCME’s Union Scholars Program remains more vital than ever as a means of instilling a deeper understanding of the causes of workers’ rights, racial and economic justice and civil rights among our nation’s youth.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
AFSCME remains unwavering in our commitment to the AFSCME Union Scholars Program in providing internships, scholarships and other opportunities to students and young people of color. We will work with allies and other organizations and directly in partnership with historically black colleges and universities, other institutions of higher education, college faculty, student organizations and other allies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
AFSCME International strongly encourages all affiliates and other progressive institutions to also withdraw from any existing partnerships with UNCF and to work instead with local institutions of higher education, faculty members, students and community allies to support the goals of the Union Scholars Program; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:
AFSCME shall seek support for our efforts with the Union Scholars Program from our labor, community and civil rights partners and will continue to work in partnership against the Koch Brothers’ efforts to distort America’s values.
Henry Nicholas, President and Delegate